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Insurance when buying a house

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What insurance do I need when buying a house?

Home insurance needs to be on your home-buying checklist. While it’s not a legal requirement for you to have buildings or contents insurance, if you have a mortgage your lender will usually insist you at least have adequate buildings cover in place.

This guide should answer any questions you might have about insurance for your new build.

Frequently asked questions

What does buildings insurance cover?

Around 16.5 million homes in the UK have buildings insurance cover. It’s there to protect you, financially, if something happens to your property structure that results in repairs or, worst case scenario, a rebuild.

Things likes subsidence, flooding, fire and storm damageare all typically covered by your buildings insurance. It protects what’s considered part of the ‘fixed structure’ of your house, including things like fitted cabinets and kitchens.

Your mortgage provider may offer their own insurance, but you don't have to take it. You have the option to choose from any home insurance provider, and it’s worth shopping around to get the most suitable deal.

When will I need to have home insurance in place?

You become legally responsible for your bricks and mortar the day you exchange contracts. So your buildings insurance needs to be in place from that date onwards. If you already own a property, you might need to overlap the insurance if there's a period of time where you're responsible for both.

It's worth remembering that you don't have to stay with the same insurance provider and, in fact, by comparing quotes, you could easily find you get a better deal.

Just remember that if you change your insurance provider midway through your term, you may be charged a cancellation fee. It's still worth doing a quote to see whether any saving you'd get from switching makes the cancellation fee worthwhile.

Remember to keep everyone updated and confirm the date you'll exchange contracts, so you know you're covered for the right property, at the right time.

Do I need home insurance when buying a leasehold property?

If you’re buying a leasehold property, like a flat in a building, you may need to insure parts of the building you’re legally responsible for. You’ll need to check the terms of your lease.

There may be communal areas of the building owned by the freeholder, who is usually responsible for the overall structure of the building. You may find you have to pay a service charge that includes a contribution towards buildings insurance, however. Be sure to ask for a copy of the policy,for your own records. Your solicitor should take care of this for you, since the mortgage provider may want to register the freeholder’s insurance.

Is it worth getting contents insurance when buying a home?

It certainly is. The average UK household owns £35,000 worth of stuff. That's going to cost a lot to replace if it's damaged, lost or stolen. So, while you're not legally obligated to take out contents insurance, not doing so could be risky.

And if you already have contents insurance, check whether it covers your belongings while they’re in transit from your old house to your new one. Some policies include this as standard, and some allow you to add it on. In either case, you'll likely need to use a proper removal firm, otherwise you won't be covered while you’re moving your possessions to your new house.

You may be able to benefit from the removal firm’s insurance. That way, if you do need to make a claim, it won't affect your insurance premium or no claims bonus. And you might not have to pay an excess charge either.

If you don't have contents insurance, it’s a worthwhile consideration before your big move. Again, shop around so you know you’re getting the right deal for the level of cover you need.

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